23 Skidoo cross industrial, punk, hip hop, funk, jazz and tribal elements. The band had interests in martial arts, burundi and kodo drumming, Fela Kuti, The Last Poets, William S. Burroughs, as well as the emerging confluence of industrial music, post-punk and funk. 23 Skidoo was formed in North London, UK in 1979 as a post-punk trio. By 1980 they had grown into a quartet consisting of Fritz Catlin, Johnny Turnbull, Sam Mills and Patrick Griffiths.
23 Skidoo was formed in North London, UK in 1979 as a post-punk trio. By 1980 they had grown into a quartet consisting of Fritz Catlin, Johnny Turnbull, Sam Mills and Patrick Griffiths.
In this line-up they recorded their first single "Ethics" in February 1981, considered unrepresentative of the band. Soon after the band was shortly augmented to a sextet by the joining of Johnny's brother Alex Turnbull and Tom Heslop, before Patrick Griffiths left the band to live in Paris. In spring 1981 the band signed to Fetish Records, for which they recorded the single Last Words and the legendary album "Seven Songs", released in February 1982.
In accordance with their uncompromising nature and refusing to be pigeon-holed as a trendy funk band, they dismissed members Sam Mills and Tom Heslop in June 1982 and played a experimental and noisy concert on instruments made from scrap metal at the WOMAD festival, for which they were joined by David Tibet of Current 93. The recording of this concert can be heard on the first side of the band's second album "The Culling is Coming", released in February 1983. This new direction saw the band dropped by Fetish Records. The second side of the album reflected the more meditative side of the band, and features gamelan instruments such as gongs and indonesian drums.
This side was further explored on their 3rd album "Urban Gamelan", released in August 1984. In the meantime bass player Sketch (Peter Martin) had loosely joined the band, formerly from the britfunk duo Linx. With Sketch the band drifted back to more accessible funk, as can be heard on the singles "Coup" and "Language".
After Urban Gamelan the individual members concentrated on other projects, releasing only the hip-hop single Assassin in 1986. The band seemed to have disappeared in the late '80s/'90s when they focused on behind-the-scenes production work and their own record label Ronin. In 2000 they released a self-titled album featuring jazz legend Pharaoh Sanders on sax and guest vocals by Roots Manuva. The group disbanded in 2003.
Much of their output has been sampled on other people's records, most notably "Coup", sampled by The Chemical Brothers on "Block Rockin' Beats". The bass line of "Fire" was used by Meat Beat Manifesto on the track "Radio Babylon" (which single-handedly kick started the jungle and drum and bass genres).